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Fil-Ams condemn intensification of political killings; movement to oust Arroyo is justified by rise in death squad hits

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Reference: Berna Ellorin, BAYAN USA,

New York– Filipinos in the US lambasted the Arroyo regime for sanctioning the the recent killing spree of at least five activists this past week in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. All five were active representatives of Bayan, a national alliance of peoples organizations in the Philippines active in the movement to oust Arroyo, with a chapter in the US.

Among the recent victims is Jose Doton, age 70, a Bayan leader in province of Pangasinan, who was gunned down earlier this week by two unidentified motorcycle-riding men.

A total of 69 activists and leaders from cause-oriented, anti-Arroyo groups have been killed this year alone. 585 have been target deaths from military hits since 2001. The nationwide scope of the killings show the systemic targetting of progressive party-lists such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and member organizations of Bayan.

“As Filipinos in the US, we realize that the killing spree of journalists,church and union leaders, and human rights activists in the Philippines is a direct result of the Arroyo regime’s agenda to silence genuine patriots and nationalists that aim to counter her subservience to the dictates of US political, economic, and military intervention–which directly undermine the people’s centuries-long interests for a sovereign Philippines,” stated Rachel Redondiez, Secretary-General of Bayan USA.

Redondiez stated social discontent for the Arroyo regime has considerably risen with the regime’s push for charter changes to the Philippine Constitution, popularly referred to as “cha-cha”, that would erode basic patrimonial rights by opening natural resources in the Philippines to 100% foreign ownership as well as allow for the re-establishment of the US military bases on Philippine soil. These and many other cha-cha provisions, touted by the Arroyo regime and authored under mandate of the US government itself, have affirmed the people’s resolve to push Arroyo out of office. It is estimated that more than 80% of Filipinos want Arroyo out.

But as the calls for ouster become more visible and vocal, Arroyo’s political killings also rise.

“Millions of Filipinos like those of us here have been pushed to migrate because of the economic and political crisis brought on by U.S.-supported regimes like the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Now, Arroyo’s appetitite for bloodshed is surpassing even the infamy of Martial Law under Marcos,” Redondiez continued.

Bayan pointed fingers at the government-sponsored death squads that have traversed the Philippines, targetting Bayan and Bayan-affiliated leaders for over 5 years, since Arroyo’s first ascendance to office. The frequency of extra-judicial killings skyrocketed in 2005 alongside public denouncement of electoral fraud and corruption that has pushed for an ongoing national campaign for regime change in Malacanang.

Earlier, members of Bayan USA accompanied national human rights leaders and advocates from Karapatan, the alliance for the advancement of human rights in the Philippines, in filing official complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Council in New York. All claims filed were on behalf of victims targetted for human rights violations under the Arroyo regime.

Bayan USA also pointed out the usage of US tax dollars to fund death squad weapons, training, and machineries in the Philippines. An Arroyo-Bush military pact sealed in 2001 has secured millions in US military aid to the Arroyo dictatorship, the largest recipient of US aid in the Asia-Pacific region. There are currently thousands of US military in the Philippines training Philippine forces in suppression tactics that include large-scale political persecution, under the auspices of so-called anti-terrorism measures.

A number of national leaders in the anti-war movement, namely former US attorney general Ramsey Clarke and writer Noam Chomsky, have openly supported calls for an Arroyo ouster and denounced human rights violations in the Philippines. Bayan USA is also actively campaigning for the total withdrawal of US monetary and military support to the Arroyo regime.

“Unfortunately for Arroyo, the killings won’t silence the popular call for presidential ouster. The intensification of state terror under her watch will not withstand the people’s movement, as Marcos experienced in 1986, and Estrada in 2001,” Redondiez ended.

Bayan USA, a chapter of Bayan Philippines with member organizations spread across the US, vowed to continue its appeal to the international community for support in the campaign to oust Arroyo and demand justice for the victims of state-sponsored terror.